“It’s armageddon, but not as we know it”

Apr 20, 2023
Jesus christ cross on wooden table with world map blur background.

Why are tens of millions of Christians supporting the expansion of Israel and the oppression of the Palestinians? It’s an important question because the answer has serious consequences for the stability of the Middle East.

Ensuring the scene is set for the return of Jesus Christ is a crusade that the Pentecostal, Evangelical and Christian Zionists (PECZs) have taken to heart because their salvation is at stake. They make up more than 70 million of the voting bloc in the United States with millions of adherents worldwide, including Australia.

PECZs belong to a strand of Christianity of which the vast majority believe in ‘End-Times’ events of the Rapture when Christ takes all Christian believers to heaven. Then there is the Second Coming of Christ at which time he will set up his kingdom on earth. After a thousand-year reign it all turns pretty grisly for those who refuse to convert. The Rapture, according to biblical interpretation, will occur in Megiddo, Israel – from which we get the term Armageddon. Expansion of Jewish settlements into the West Bank and Occupied Territories is encouraged. These territories are to be emptied of Palestinians so that Jews can inhabit the land which will eventually bring on the Second Coming and Christian salvation. This is prophesied in the Bible and to hasten this event, PECZs dollars flow into Israel by means of Christian tourism. Donations towards the funding of illegal settlements also comes via organisations such as Christians United for Israel (CUFI) headed by John Hagee.

American politicians Mike Pompeo, Mike Pence and Mike Huckabee are self-confessed believers. Pompeo, in 2015, described politics as “a never-ending struggle…until the Rapture.” Just outside of Nablus, lies an illegal Israeli settlement which hosts many American volunteers who wish to work where Jesus walked. American- born founder Aaron Katsof of the non-profit Binyamin Fund proclaimed that the Evangelicals are their “biggest allies” and money raised is earmarked for projects in the settlements. Netanyahu himself stated in 2020 that “we have no greater friends than [American] Christian supporters of Israel”.

It was, arguably, in 2015 that presidential hopeful, Donald Trump, saw the enormity of what Christians could do for his election chances. He was taking part in the Republican Presidential Primary Debate when a question came in from a Facebook user. Had the contenders ‘received a word from God on what they should do?’ Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio (confessed devout Christians) answered as to their belief that God was guiding them to steer America. Trump seemed stumped to answer but perhaps had an ah-ha moment when he realised the extent of the Christian might in his country. Ask not what you can do for your country – ask what Christians can do for your election chances. Trump utilised the services of Pentecostal Pastor Paula White to bolster his Christian image as he took her on his campaign trail and retained many evangelical advisors when elected. He held a bible aloft for a photo op and quoted scripture when opportunity struck. He perhaps realised his political survival depended on his overt appreciation for God. Once elected he went out of his way to garner the PECZs favour and scrapped decades of diplomacy by recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in 2017, whilst promising to move the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in 2018 – which he did. Vestiges of Trump and his PECZs supporters remain bubbling just under the surface of American politics.

The Christian religion has been sewn into the seams of the American cloak of exceptionalism and has allowed this faith to dictate what happens thousands of miles away to people in Palestine-Israel. This subject should not be dismissed as harmless religious belief because until Christ returns, or fails to show up, this region of the world remains destabilised and fractious with Palestinians paying the price. And the price is military incursion into Palestinian land, collective punishment where homes are razed to the ground. Water and medical restrictions are a regular part of life with the gross violation of their human rights and indignity and harassment at border checks. Over 170 Palestinians were killed last year, including 30 children, while in January-February this year 63 have been killed. Perhaps worse of all is the lack of a safe and prosperous future – especially for the younger generation of Palestinians.

To bring this home, the influence of Scott Morrison’s Pentecostal belief was evident with such statements as “I can assure you that Australia and my government, in particular, will remain a staunch friend of Israel.” He claimed that his faith would not influence his politics, yet surely that would mean putting God second to your country which runs contrary to those beliefs. Morrison may have been ousted, yet there is a strong pro-Israel stance, even under Albanese, with Penny Wong stating that Australia’s ongoing support would not be affected should the Israeli far-right inch further towards their aims. This may not be upon religious lines, yet it still gives weight to Israel to believe in their actions of Occupation. Such support for a state described as an ‘apartheid state’ by the UN, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and Israeli human rights organisation, B’Tselem, means that the ongoing oppression and Occupation of the Palestinians continues.

Australia is a socially minded, fair and relatively caring society, so why have we turned a blind eye to the eternal suffering of the Palestinians so that PECZs can have their eternal salvation?

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